Poetry: John Cooper

John Cooper
Bio: John Cooper is 85 years old, living in Laurieton NSW, Australia. 
For many years I have written poetry in one form or another. Finding poetry a very useful aid in proposing a toast to someone for a special birthday, or similar occasion. My poetry is traditional in style, my greatest inspiration the revered Australian poet, Henry Lawson.

I left school to work on a dairy farm at age 14. I have worked in various jobs and professions during my working life, the majority of time in a management role.

Each of the poems below I have written in the eight months following the death of my wife of over 65 years. The first poem, “Tears on My Pillow” was composed two days after Vicky’s passing and was read at her Memorial Service. 
The following four poems have been composed at various times in recent months.
I have found that putting words on paper has helped me with the grieving process.
Tears On My Pillow (May 2022)
There are tears on my pillow as I try to sleep,
I close my eyes, but still I weep,
For such a long time we had been together,
A love so deep, it carried us through some stormy weather.
There are tears on my pillow, I can’t get to sleep,
I pray to my God that your soul he will keep,
Keep you safe in his care, for eternity all,
And that one day soon I’ll hear his call.
There are tears on my pillow as I think of the years,
Sharing our strengths, and conquering our fears,
Through times that were tough, with not much money,
But still we were able to see all that was funny.
There are tears on my pillow they don’t seem to stop,
On to my pillow they fall, drop, drop, drop.
The memories of you and your love for the kids,
 Not one of those memories would I swap for quids.
There are tears on my pillow as I think of you,
Of your smile and your laughter, of the girl that I knew,
As teenagers just fifteen and sixteen were we,
It just seemed that together we were meant to be.
There are tears on my pillow, I remember the day,
The day that I married, Victoria May,
Sixty-five years and a few months more,
That our marriage vows that with honesty, we swore. 
There are tears on my pillow our kids come to mind,
Five we had and our lives all entwined,
As each of them grew and then went on their way,
Johnny, Phillip, Ian, Brian, and then Lynda Gay. 
There are tears on my pillow, how it seems the years flew,
Seventeen homes we have lived in, me and you,
And cars by the dozen or more we have had,
Some of them good and some of them bad.
There are tears on my pillow as I think of the pain,
We both felt when we lost Phillip Wayne,
It hurt us so much to lose our second son,
Just 47 years old, and his life it was done.
There are tears on my pillow, I remember Sam your little dog,
Oh, what joy did he bring, it was like lifting a fog,
He was ‘a good dog really’ a real little mate,
Your friend and companion, oh the stories I could relate.
There are tears on my pillow, I think of your name,
Victoria May Nanette, was your claim to fame,
But to me you were Old Woman, or Vic or Mick, 
And sometimes, ‘She Who Must be obeyed’ did the trick.
There are tears on my pillow, of our times I do think, 
Of friends we have known, oh the numbers do shrink,
Many of whom have gone on before you,
And now are there to bid, welcome to you.
There are tears on my pillow as I reach out for you,
But you are not there, not the lady I knew,
No warmth from your body, just the cold sheet,
It seems oh so lonely, my life no longer complete.
There are tears on my pillow all through the night,
And to me it just, does not, seem right,
That from this mortal coil, you have now gone,
The night is so long, I wait for the dawn.
There are tears on my pillow, but I know that one day,
We’ll be together again, oh for that I do pray,
Till then my dear girl of you I’ll think each day,
Knowing that your pains have now gone away.
    There are tears on my pillow.

Your Photo on the Wall (August 2022)
Your photo hangs upon the wall, I look at it each day,
You look at me as I sit to eat my meals, you with your hair of grey,
Your passing on my heart does play, of you I think each day,
I think of when you were there by me, oh for those days I pray.
As through life we went along, for all those many years, 
You were always there next to me, your memory brings me tears,
Our union was so close, so strong, it conquered all our fears,
And now as life goes on without you, I am often brought to tears. 
Each night while asleep I lay, I often dream of you
And then I awake and I find that the dream, it was not true.
I dream of times gone past, as life’s journey we went through,
For nearly sixty six years were we, with only the occasional blue.
A vision of you, it comes to me, as I doze in my lounge chair,
I see you standing in the hall, your smile, your eyes, your hair,
I remember you as a girl, I still see you standing there,
Young and bright, so full of life, and seeming without a care.
But now as I face what lies before me, without you by my side,
I recall the night you stood by me as a young and blushing bride,
As we held hands and took our vows I was filled with, oh such pride,
I now recall the night you passed and how I bowed my head and cried.
Your photo hangs upon the wall, I look at it each day,
The memories it brings to me, of times so long away,
Of dinner around the table, with five children and sometimes a stray,
For family was your life’s purpose, and your love was never far away.
 Your gardens, they were always grand, and filled with many flowers,
 Just about anything you could make grow, your green fingers had special powers,
Whether planting shrubs or seedlings, you always found the hours,
To be there in your garden, whether it be a day hot or filled with showers.
The love you had for children, all your life, it was so strong,
And each time you held a baby, your smile would last so long,
Your love for birds and animals, was there your whole lifelong,
And your gentleness with the injured, would help their recovery along.
Your home was always neat and clean, it clearly showed the pride,
That you had in our home, from the day you were my bride,
The nick-knacks and the ornaments, were there to be eyed,
By all who came to visit us, even flowers that were dried.
And now my girl, the days are long, and the nights so cold without you,
I view your photo on the wall, and often think about you,
About the laughs, the tears, and the love that for years we knew,
Will be in my memory, and I will never cease thinking of you.

God’s Catching Pen (September 2022)
I live in a Retirement Village, with people of a similar age,
Some are only here for a short time, others for a very long stage,
Living here brings back memories, of a time so long ago,
 When I worked in a shearing shed, just to make some dough.
The woolsheds that I've worked in, all had catching pens, 
You see the sheep are brought in, and put in those pens,
They wait there to be selected, by the shearer in a hurry,
Who shears the wool, then down the shoot, all in a rush and flurry.
Now when it’s time for shearing, the bell rings at seven thirty,
 And for two hours the shearers work hard, and this it makes them thirsty,
Nine thirty, time for smoko, sandwiches and black tea in a tin mug,
Then at ten it’s back into the shed, and back into the slog. 
And so it goes on through the day, catching sheep from out the pen,
The selection is quite random, it’s just like a wen,
There's no looking for which comes next, it’s the closest that will do,
 The job is done down the shoot, and so the tally grew.
Now in the village that I live, the activity here is much more slow,
Than the hurry of the shearing shed, we just sort of go with the flow,
But like the sheep we wait our turn, for our God to make a selection,
And to indicate which way we go, either in an up or down direction.
And as I wait in God’s catching pen and contemplate my life,
Would I change anything if I could, and maybe avoid some strife,
I don’t think so, because you see it’s been all a part of living,
The lessons learned, the wages earned, are what I have been given.

The Old Rosella (November 2022)

Each afternoon between three and four,
An old rosella comes to feed,
He sits there at my feeding tray,
And eats what is his need.
And then he sits and looks at me,
Sharing our aloneness together,
For he too has lost his mate,
And so, we are now alone forever and ever.
And after a while off he flies,
To do whatever it is that birds do,
When they are lonely and getting old,
Without the company of the mate he knew.
I think of how much alike we are,
That old rosella bird and me,
Taking each day as it comes,
With more heartache than with glee.
And I hope that when our time is done,
And this earth we leave behind,
That old bird as well as I,
Will our mate of past surely find.

And Life Goes On (November 2022)

It’s not the same, but life goes on,
Although the days are long and blue,
And the nights so cold and lonely,
My only pleasure is when I dream of you.
I dream that you are by my side,
Nestled there beside me,
Calmly asleep, and so at peace,
Your body there to warm me.
But then I awake from slumber deep,
To realise I am all alone,
No mate is there, no one to share,
The things we both had known.
Things that through life we shared,
The laughs, the smiles, the tears,
The good times and the bad times,
The things we shared all through those years.
But life goes on, as life it must,
And although it is without you,
The thought of you is there with me,
During waking hours, and all night through.


  1. Beautifully written, bought tears to my eyes, a smile to my face and warmed my heart.

    1. Thank you, your encouragement is appreciated.


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